Belleville crash victim becomes family's 3rd son lost in a car a - KMOV.com

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Belleville crash victim becomes family's 3rd son lost in a car accident

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Chris Craig and  his nephew, Able (Courtesy: Christina Ervin) Chris Craig and his nephew, Able (Courtesy: Christina Ervin)
Emergency crews on scene of a deadly accident in southwest Belleville, Illinois Friday (KMOV) Emergency crews on scene of a deadly accident in southwest Belleville, Illinois Friday (KMOV)
Emergency crews on scene of a deadly accident in southwest Belleville, Illinois Friday (KMOV) Emergency crews on scene of a deadly accident in southwest Belleville, Illinois Friday (KMOV)

BELLEVILLE, Il. (KMOV.com) -- News 4 is learning much more about a Metro East family killed in a head-on crash Friday as well as the driver who caused the accident.

The victims were on their way to a wake for a member of the family who recently died.

Police say 48-year old Alejandro Salen was killed when his SUV veered into the path of a pickup on Illinois 158 at Concordia Church Road in Belleville.

The crash killed 24-year-old Christopher Craig and his grandmother, Jerilyn Hess and critically injured his grandfather Donald Hess.

Read: Driver in Belleville accident had revoked license; identities of deceased released

Chris was close with his grandparents. His grandmother sometimes brought him dinner to the AutoZone on Telegraph where he worked.

He's being remembered as a young man with a love of cars and a heart of gold.     

“He was like a son to me,” said family friend Laura Heeg. “He was sweet, he was caring. He loved people, he always tried to do the right thing, he saw the best in people."

Heeg got to know Craig through the 1977 Chrysler Cordoba featured prominently on his Facebook page. The car had belonged to her son but broke down a lot and Craig seemed to be the only person who could fix it. He eventually bought it for himself.

"So he was over all the time. I mean he was over all the time fixing the car and we'd call him and say, ‘It didn't start today’ and he'd say, ‘I'll be there, I'll be there," Heeg recalls.

Craig recently bought a house in Dupo, one with an extra large garage to fit the Cordoba and all the other old cars he owned and like to work on. When the crash happened Friday around noon in Belleville, Craig and his grandparents were on their way to sign the title on his new house and then to attend a wake for his other grandfather.

The driver who struck the vehicle he was in was driving without a license. It had been revoked after multiple DUIs.

Craig would sometimes come to Heeg’s house when he needed someone to talk to. They'd made plans for him to stop by Saturday night, but he never made it.

"So I was trying to get ahold of him all day Saturday. He never not texted me back and I couldn't understand why,” she said. “Now I know."

Tragically, Craig lost a brother a year ago, also in a car crash. His older brother Andrew, then 29, died when his car went off a road and down a steep embankment just outside of De Soto. Andrew’s body wasn’t discovered for three months, prolonging the family’s anguish and leaving his fate undetermined for 90 days.  

The Craig family has now lost three of their five children in car crashes.

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